AdviceBy trade/skillIain AitchRoofing

Common roof problems and how to deal with them

Winter’s not the best time to get large-scale roofing work done, but it’s certainly the time to scope out what work needs doing and get those smaller jobs sorted. You won’t want to have your roof replaced when it’s blowing a gale, raining or snowing, unless it’s an emergency. But winter offers the chance to spot any roofing problems. It’s also a great time to catch roofers for repair work, as they may be less busy than in spring and summer, when they undertake most of their bigger jobs.

Below, are the most common roofing problems and advice on how you can identify and deal with them.

Picture of a man repairing a roof

Don’t be afraid of looking up

Most roofing jobs aren’t big ones so don’t be afraid to look up or just ignore a problem in the hope that it’ll go away. A roofing contractor will be able to put you at ease and start work to get any roofing issues sorted. Leaks are often down to minor issues or wear and tear above the supporting structure that makes up your roof. Look up and check what’s going on up there and be sure to do it from as many angles as you can. If you’re friendly with the people across the street, then you may find that looking from their upstairs window is a help, giving you a better view of your property. The roof is designed to repel water evenly so any areas where water appears to be gushing off or absent in the rain may indicate a problem.


Get up in the loft

Winter is a great time to check your roof’s watertight. It should be warm and dry. There may be the odd bit of breeze if it’s very cold and windy but there shouldn’t be any visual signs or smells of damp. Check the upper corners and around the chimney stack if you have one. It’s also a good time to check a water tank isn’t leaking.

Beware of strangers bearing roof tiles

Good roofing experts don’t need to knock on your door and tell you about the roof tiles that they’ve found on the pavement after a storm. Unless you happen to live next door to a friendly roofer then this is likely to be a scam. If you have any doubts, then simply bring in a reputable roofing contractor to have a look for you.

Common problems

There are lots of small problems that can affect a roof. In most cases you’ll only need some small repairs doing. Common problems include missing, loose or cracked slates or tiles, blocked gullies or gutters and worn or cracked flashing (the lead finishing around the tiles or slates). If you have skylights, then you can also get leaks coming in if they were poorly installed. Damage to the roof is often caused by wind, with items such as TV aerials sometimes being blown over and causing damage. In most cases your roofer may have to use scaffolding to complete the work. Do ask about this when they’re giving you a quote for the work.

Professional roofer at work

If it all goes wrong

If there’s something seriously wrong with your roof then it may need a more serious repair or even replacement. Do bear in mind that the average lifespan of a roof is around 25 years. This could mean that the felt and tiles need replacing or removing and renovating. If your roof is bowing or you’re losing a lot of tiles, then your roof may be on its way out. In some cases, you can need the actual structure replacing or repairing, which may mean new wooden beams. This is fairly rare and often results from poorly-installed roofs or other subsidence or structural problems. This may cause the wooden supports to warp or twist. A full replacement roof will cost around £5,000 for the average home.

Considering a different roof? Check out metal roofs and let us know if you love it or loathe it!

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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  1. It’s always a better idea to call the specialists, this is how you will feel more secure and your house will be protected.

  2. Had a whole new roof done a week and half ago as felt had big holes in it and water coming into house through walls how long till walls dry out as in the worst effected room it gets wet still at bottom and top drys quick but still comes back does it need to dry out or is it a damp problem don’t want to spend more money if I need to let walls dry and this can happen

    1. Hi Tracey, have you asked the roofing company this question? It sounds like the roofing issue may have caused a damp problem to form inside, however you’d want to get a tradesperson to take a look to determine this. I’d recommend first speaking with your roofer and then if at all unsure or the signs point to a damp issue, I’d bring in a damp proofing expert to take a look. We have a damp proofing category under specialist tradesman on our site. I hope the problem gets sorted!

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